How do we meditate?
Whenever we hear the word meditation, most people would instinctively say "I can't do that." But meditation is actually not that difficult. Take me for example - I used to walk around like a headless chicken (I still sometimes do), doing a million things at the same time and thinking of my imaginative list of more tasks ahead! The thought of stopping or slowing down was unimaginable. "Breathe" is what most books say when we are stressed. "Yeah, right!" would be my reply. Since I started slowing down and being more observant of the things going on around me, I became more conscientious in my dealings with myself, others and the environment. All I had to do was take a few minutes from my daily routine to sit and observe. What is meditation anyway? It will be a big disappointment to expect to completely shut off and still the mind. So we should not expect to be able to do this in the beginning of our practice. The mind, in its nature, is easily distracted by external objects. It is up to us to re-train the mind to free itself from any distraction and focus on its true nature. Besides, contrary to popular belief, we do not have to sit in a cross-legged position on the floor to meditate. Based on Wikipedia's definition, "meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the thinking mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. It often involves tuning attention to a single point of reference." For us folks, it simply means to focus our attention on a single object. Instead of shutting off completely, let us try to observe our thoughts and let them flow, not dwell on each of them. Once we have focus and awareness, we can start with a simple visualization practice. Sitting comfortably on a mat or on a chair, relax your whole body. Let the breath flow through your nostrils in a wave-like motion. Begin by imagining your favorite place, a relaxing and private place where you can enjoy being on your own. It could be a beach, a luscious garden, a bench in the park or even a bath tub full of bubbles. Place yourself in that place and notice how you feel. Are you relaxed, calmer, and more secure? Let these feelings sink into your deeper self and feel the calm relaxing peace of your solitude. You can always return to this special place anytime. Do this a couple of times during the day; you will feel refreshed after each practice. Gradually you can move on to a deeper meditation as you improve your focus and attention.